The Right Ingredients: A Passion Project Story

Will was a bit apprehensive before coming to Green Hill. Being in his late 20’s, his concern was whether or not he would connect with the community in the house because he figured he would be significantly older than most of the other guys.

“I was coming from a challenging period of my life,” says Will. “My addiction had taken me to a pretty lonely and dark place; living in a halfway house, drinking and getting away with it. I had to get up at 6am to drink in order to avoid withdrawals.”

Having been through treatment before, Will was anxious to progress in the program and as many Green Hill guys do, was wondering what his Passion Project might be. Immediately, he became an asset to the community with his empathetic listening and sharp sense of humor. 

Not long after his arrival, our team was overwhelmingly impressed by both Will’s intelligence and earnestness in recovery. He began contributing to our house the moment he arrived, and was always happy to talk to staff about a wide range of subjects.

However, it soon became apparent that Will wanted support in other areas of his life as well. One major area he wanted support in was in how to prepare delicious and healthy food.

This was an excellent opportunity for a Passion Project! We matched Will up with Chef Brian, a local chef who is also very active in recovery and frequents the Green Hill house.

Chef Brian agreed to begin meeting with Will to mentor him and provide cooking lessons. What emerged was a weekly personalized cooking class for Will. Will came in with a beginner’s mind and quickly absorbed important life lessons. Will noted “the most important things I learned was how to plan meals and effectively shop for groceries.” There were other benefits as well. Chef Brian made sure that Will learned multiple recipes, fundamental and advanced cooking and food preparation techniques. Ultimately Will became much more comfortable in the kitchen.

After several months, Will is an old hand in the kitchen and has become more comfortable in the community as well. “I felt really welcomed and supported by the community at Green Hill and was able to connect well with the guys here” says Will. 

Staff too noticed a change. “After Will began his cooking class I noticed a huge shift,” said Michael O’Sullivan, a Green Hill Program Facilitator, “he’s definitely become more comfortable and energized. One specific thing which has been awesome to see is how Will has taken an active role in cooking community dinner on Sunday nights.” 

Will also started to notice a change in himself, saying “I have become more comfortable being honest about when I am struggling and asking for help.” Since being at Green Hill, Will has begun working again full time and has plans to finish school. 

Will is still growing and adjusting to new challenges around food, Now that he’s working full time, keeping up with his healthy cooking routine has been a difficult balance to maintain. However, he still feels that Green Hill and his Passion Project have helped provide him a foundation to build upon and move forward.

Food knowledge has always been a part of our culture at Green Hill. On Sundays we have a community dinner where clients and staff make dinner for the whole community together.

Green Hill prides itself on its ability to facilitate enriching activities and pursuits for our residents. 

Ultimately, that’s what our Passion Projects are all about: helping our guys find their “thing” and then working out a plan of action to foster and support the pursuit of that passion. Our mission is always to bring hope and joy back into the lives of our young men.